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Sprint Spikes for Pole Vault.

Posted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:50 am
by WiscoVaulter
Hi guys, I'd like to have a discussion about using sprint spikes for pole vaulting. I know a lot of advanced vaulters and coaches use/recommend triple jump spikes, the most common that I've seen are the Nike TJ 3's. And the reason I've seen most stated for this is because of the heel padding and therefore less chance of a bruised heel, which can nag for an entire season.

It seems to me that sprint spikes are never given a chance, they are actively advised against as a bad spike for pole vault. At the 2014 Junior Nationals, I was the only vaulter in the entire field with sprint spikes. This seems to have just become a norm and nobody has tested it. Two vaulters with the exact same form and power will jump differently if one is faster on the runway. Sprint spikes are designed to generate the most speed of any spike, they have rigid plates and a lot of spikes. The rigid plate forces runners up onto their toes, promoting efficient running form. They also are significantly lighter then PV or TJ spikes. This should intuitively make them better, right? But that's not the case according to most coaches and athletes.

I conducted a small test, which is by no means conclusive, however it does give me very personalized data to make a decision for myself, this test was to run 3 flying thirties with flats, three with NIke TJ spikes, and three with Nike R4 spikes. Me and a teammate conducted the test. The fastest times are as follows:

Vaulter 1(me):
Flats: 3.33
TJ: 3.30
R4: 3.18

Vaulter 2:
Flats: 3.30
TJ: 3.22
R4: 3.20

This data clearly shows that sprint spikes are faster, the change in times varies from the vaulters, perhaps the slight increase in speed isn't worth it for vaulter 2 at the cost of being uncomfortable and more prone to foot injuries, however, for vaulter 1, it is clear that the sprint spikes can make a huge change in pole selection and speed on the runway.

I used sprint spikes for the majority of high school and I loved them. I feel more aggressive on the runway and significantly faster. It may be placebo, but the data suggests that it is not. When I came to college, the coach suggested that I use the TJ spikes initially and see how I like them. I liked them just fine, however when I conducted the tests I presented the data to my coach and asked if I could wear sprint spikes. He allowed it, saying that I could use them for a few practices to get used to them, but then I would only be allowed to wear them at meets because of possible injury concerns and because it will just add a little extra speed for meets.

Let's have a discussion.

Re: Sprint Spikes for Pole Vault.

Posted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 11:00 am
by AVC Coach
I'm not sure anyone will argue with your data. I think the reason most coaches, including myself, like the vault/TJ spikes is due to the support they give to the foot. I've never seen a sprint spike that has good enough support to handle the stress repetitions of a powerful takeoff.

As for the sprint spikes having more spikes in them I would have to argue that, after spending thousands on a runway, I like the idea of less spikes ripping up the takeoff area.

Re: Sprint Spikes for Pole Vault.

Posted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:37 pm
by WiscoVaulter
Is the takeoff really that stressful to the point where it can cause significant injuries?

Re: Sprint Spikes for Pole Vault.

Posted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:57 pm
by KirkB
To my knowledge, the stress of takeoff on the shoes won't cause injuries, but can and will stretch the shoes, eventually tearing them apart - depending on how tightly they're laced, and depending on the explosiveness of the vaulter on takeoff. Your takeoff foot flattens a bit on impact, pressing on each side of the shoe. Sprint shoes aren't designed for this stress, but are nice for all but the last step of the run. This applies to vaulters that JUMP on takeoff, but does not apply to vaulters that RUN thru their takeoff.

The heels of TJ shoes are designed to withstand the middle step of the TJ event, where there's a heel-toe landing, and where this same side-stretch impact occurs. The heel-toe landing should NOT apply to PV, and is one good reason why I don't like TJ shoes for PV - they might encourage the vaulter to touch his heel down on takeoff (which I consider to be bad technique).

On the other hand, good heel padding is good for those crazy landings where you miss the pit completely, stalling out and coming back down on the hard surface of the runway or (worse yet) the side of the runway. However, I honestly don't think that vaulters should concern themselves with that during MEETS (practices, maybe OK), because if you're stalling out that badly, something is very, very wrong with your pole selection, technique, or runway speed.

From a practical cost point of view, you will use less pairs of TJ shoes than sprint shoes per season, since they handle the impact on takeoff better.


Re: Sprint Spikes for Pole Vault.

Posted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 9:00 pm
by VaultMarq26
Shoe companies spend millions of dollars on research. There is soo much more that goes into shoe design that 99% of the population knows.

The center of gravity of an athlete is different when carrying a pole vs sprinting. That changes the way you run. I don't think that is a debatable truth. I can only assume that this played a roll In the design.

I also believe that Kirk is correct when he talked about the materials for vault spikes being more supportive. I knew a long jumper who exploded a sprint spike on a takeoff and ended up in the ER getting quite a few stiches in his foot.

Re: Sprint Spikes for Pole Vault.

Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:36 am
by rainbowgirl28
My personal experience has been that nearly every high school kid I have ever coached who pole vaulted in sprint spikes ended up with shin splints. I always recommend mid-distance spikes for HS vaulters looking for a cheap pair of spikes that will work for many events.

At the end of the day, it comes down to whatever works for you. But overall, I don't think sprint spikes are a good choice for most vaulters.

Re: Sprint Spikes for Pole Vault.

Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:37 am
by KirkB
VaultMarq26 wrote: I knew a long jumper who exploded a sprint spike on a takeoff and ended up in the ER getting quite a few stitches in his foot.

Oh, really? I wasn't aware that THAT could happen. I was only aware of the potential damage to the spikes - not to the athlete's foot!

Is there a good spike designed specifically for LJ, and do any vaulters use them? It seems to me that that would be most suitable for PV (other than spikes designed specifically for PV).


Re: Sprint Spikes for Pole Vault.

Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:18 am
by WiscoVaulter
If sprint spikes were to be used exclusively for meets that would make the wear and tear negligible, as well as the shin splint issue, no? I understand that many people cannot justify having more than one pair of spikes, but if we are talking about the absolute best conditions for pole vault it still seems like there are no real downsides to a sprint spike. Especially considering the added speed, which can be significant. At the BIG 10 outdoor conference meet places 4-10 all jumped 5.10 meters. It came down to misses which athlete placed where, when every jump is so crucial, it makes sense to have every single advantage possible.

Re: Sprint Spikes for Pole Vault.

Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 8:21 am
by Darth Vaulter
I'd like to know what kind of spikes these were. ... 455088928/